Vertical integration made a strong showing at the broadcast upfronts, with owned series getting the bulk of the new series orders and renewals. In light of last week’s media stocks beating over cord-cutting concerns, that likely was not an anomaly but the start of a new (and possibly permanent) push toward program ownership. The importance has been stressed by most TV executives who have taken the stage at the TCA Summer Press Tour so far — ABC’s Paul Lee, Fox’s Dana Walden and Gary Newman, FX’s John Landgraf. The latest to do that was CBS Chairman Nina Tassler today.
“One of the things that’s really key about our schedule and key moving forward is our ownership position in many of the primetime shows, fall shows and our returning shows, which certainly puts us at an advantage,” she said when asked how CBS deals with declining TV ratings. “There isn’t a set equation except the fact that the ownership puts us in a real prime position in terms of monetizing across the board, allows us to explore other platforms,” Tassler stressed that the company is getting revenues from iTunes, where CBS-owned The Good Wife is No. 1, Tassler said, CBS All Access and other on-demand platforms for its series though did not provide details on the size of compensation compared to traditional TV advertising.
Because CBS owns all its original scripted summer series, “we make money from those shows (regardless of ratings),” Tassler said, referring to the streaming deals modestly rated Under The Dome, Extant and Zoo have in place.
Tassler also stressed the importance of CBS owning and producing both of its late-night shows, Late Show and The Late Late Show, for the first time. “We are now owners, not renters. And we look forward to all the traditional and emerging revenue opportunities this brings,” she said.
At the upfronts, CBS picked up all fully owned bubble shows while canceling all outside ones. Among freshman series, CBS TV Studios‘ CSI: Cyber and The Odd Couple were renewed while the three shows with outside studio ownership — Stalker, Battle Creek and The McCarthys — got the ax. Among established series that got renewed, the only one that is not owned/co-owned by the network, WBTV drama Person Of Interest, did not get a full-season but a partial, 13-episode order. Three seasoned returning scripted series were kept off the fall schedule as midseason replacements, all of them from WBTV: POI and comedies 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly. This is the third year in a row that Mike & Molly has been kept on the bench.
The impact is greatest on the mid-tier series as a big hit is a big hit no matter which studio it comes from. “If a show has run its course it’s run its course regardless of ownership,” Tassler told Deadline. “You look at a show like (CBS-owned) Blue Bloods and Elementary. Because we have very lucrative syndication deals and international sales on those projects, the shows are very profitable for us. Then there is (WBTV-owned) The Big Bang Theory, we are able to make money of it because of its success on network. It’s about balancing different ways you can monetize and generate revenue.”